Healthcare is different not only because of its universality, but because of its intimacy. No other industry transformation – recent or historical – has been accompanied by a similar level of anxiety. This is because what we call “healthcare” is actually shorthand for our most fundamental hopes and fears as humans – life and death, independence and dependency, control and chaos.
The U.S. healthcare system is in flux, perpetually moving. Changes compound and impact each other with all the complexity and intricacy of a Rube Goldberg machine – albeit with slightly less wit.
Healthcare news is everywhere. The approval of a promising new cancer drug. The entrance of a major technology company into the healthcare space. Vaccines in development. Proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid. A hospital closing. The nursing shortage. Telehealth. It’s all there, part of the public consciousness.
The common thread in all this news? Massive change. It’s not orderly or predictable, but it’s unstoppable, and it affects every sector of the healthcare economy and every stakeholder in the country.
Unlike other industries that have undergone transformation – banking, travel, car insurance – healthcare uniquely touches every single one of the 317 million inhabitants of the United States. Everyone is a healthcare consumer, and everyone will engage with the system, often when they are at their most vulnerable. No one is immune. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate healthcare spending to be 19.9 percent of GDP by 2022, but even that impressive statistic underestimates the role and reach of healthcare in society. Healthcare intersects with nearly every facet of our lives, from policy to politics, business to economics and technology and beyond.
Just because healthcare is important and relevant doesn’t make it approachable or easy to understand. On the contrary, healthcare is a particularly technical industry due to the scientific language of medicine, the complexity of regulation and the jargon of technology. All of this presents unique and critically important challenges:
• How do we address a topic that is profoundly important and personal but is typically discussed in impenetrable technical ways?
• How can we expect rational decision-making when the decisions made are also deeply emotional? To step back further, how are those decisions made?
• How can organizations help their constituents navigate the choppy waters of change with confidence and trust when the rules are changing before their eyes?
If the focus of these questions suggests that they can be addressed by improved marketing and communications, then that is no accident. This isn’t a new idea; many players in the healthcare system are sophisticated marketers who have long been using communications strategy to engage with audiences and achieve their goals. Insurance and pharmaceutical companies have made significant investments in marketing over long time horizons. But now, in a confusing, shifting environment, clear, well-crafted and well-executed marketing is becoming more crucial to business success than ever.
Things are changing and everyone knows it. Jane Zimmerman, CCO, Physician Affiliate Group of New York says, “Nothing takes care of itself • You need to be anticipating what the expectations are • and you do need to be proactive [about managing those expectations].”
The two historic players in healthcare marketing – insurance payers and the pharmaceutical industry – are not the only major stakeholders anymore. For reasons discussed later in this white paper, many other important players are now entering the healthcare marketing arena. Existing businesses are increasing their commitment to marketing as well as their demands. Others are new. Even the most established healthcare marketers are rethinking what they do and how they do it.
What will the new marketing best practices look like? To cover every systemic change and its effects would require a tome. Instead, this report highlights the most important forces shifting the market and addresses their marketing implications for our future.
This is an excerpt from the “Healthcare: When All the Parts are Moving Parts” white paper, which spotlights the rapidly changing healthcare landscape. To read the full white paper and for more information, please click here.
Wendy Lurrie – Managing Director, gyro:human
Wendy Lurrie is the managing director of gyro’s healthcare practice gyro:human based in New York. gyro:human is gyro’s newly formed U.S. division dedicated to all aspects of the healthcare industry. Lurrie is a healthcare industry ace who has worked with United Healthcare, Aetna, Eli Lilly and Company, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, to name a few.
She held executive positions at major agencies Draft, DraftFCB and Grey, where her responsibilities included the management and growth of the healthcare portfolios. Lurrie has worked on the client side as a VP of marketing at Travelers as well as served a consultant specializing in marketing strategy.